Providing Lesson Focus with ‘Do Now’ Experiences

flickr photo by hans s shared under a Creative Commons (BY-ND) license

One of the most effective ways to ensure a focused start to your lessons is to implement a culture and consistent practice of ‘do now’ experiences.

From the Teach Like a Champion blog:

“The first step in a great lesson is a “Do Now”– a short activity that you have written on the board or that is waiting for students as they enter.  It often starts working before you do.  While you are greeting students at the door, or finding that stack of copies, or erasing the mark-ups you made to your overhead from the last lesson, students should already be busy, via the Do Now with scholarly work that prepares them to succeed. In fact, students entering your room should never have to ask themselves, “What am I supposed to be doing?” That much should go without saying. The habits of a good classroom should answer, “You should be doing the Do Now, because we always start with the Do Now.”

An effective Do Now should conform to four critical criteria to ensure that it remains focused, efficient, and effective:

  1. The Do Now should be in the same place every day so taking it and getting started is the habit of all your students.  The options for where it goes:  1) You can write it on the Board- ideally in the same place everyday or post it on a piece of newsprint having written it in advance.2) You can put it in writing on a sheet of paper or as the first page in a packet for the day’s lesson(see technique #19, Double Plan). You’d then either leave the Do Nows in a stack on a table or desk just inside the door and that students take as soon as they enter or place a Do Now on each student’s desk before they enter.  (I tend to see this one most at the elementary school level)
  2. Students should be able to complete the Do Now without any direction from the teacher, without any discussion with their classmates and in most cases without any other materials save what you provide.  So if the Do Now is to write a sentence interpreting a primary source document that is an 19th century Punch cartoon, that cartoon should be posted somewhere easily visible to all or else copied into the Do Now packet.  This by the way his a significant benefit to paper-based Do Nows and probably explains why over the past four years I’ve seen more and more of them—and fewer DO Nows on the Board—in top teachers’ classrooms. Some teachers misunderstand the purpose of the Do Now and use a version of the technique that requires them to explain to their students what to do and how to do it: “Okay, class, you can see that the Do Now this morning asks you to solve some typical problems using area. Remember that to solve area problems, you have to multiply.” This defeats the purpose of establishing a self-managed habit of productive work. If you have to give directions, it’s not independent enough.”    Read the rest of the post, including samples, here.

For more examples of how to use “Do Now” strategy in your classroom, check out the Teaching Channel. 





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